Holiday sales momentum carried into January for tech and appliance retailers, and then some.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, sales at CE and majap specialty stores last month bettered those in December – the peak of the yuletide shopping season – by 0.5 percent, even when adjusted for price changes.
What’s more, year-over-year revenue rose 1.6 percent, to $8.2 billion, the agency said, fueled in part by Super Bowl sales of ever more affordable 4K TVs.
Other sectors fared even better: January sales at furniture and home furnishings stores rose 4.7 percent over last year, but were flat from December, while month-over-month sales were flat for e-tailers and other direct sellers, but shot up 10.2 percent from January 2017.
Total retail sales, excluding restaurants and car dealers, were flat from December and up 3.9 percent from a year ago, to $391.3 billion.
Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation (NRF), an industry trade group, believes the government figures bode well for the rest of the year.
“You’ve got to keep in mind that we’re coming off one of the strongest holiday seasons in years,” he said. “These numbers reinforce a positive start to 2018 that reflects ongoing consumer optimism” fueled by lower unemployment and higher wages.
“Stock market headlines are a concern for some shoppers,” he added, “but households have the wherewithal to spend, and the tax cuts consumers are now seeing in their paychecks will bring an added boost.”
The NRF is forecasting total 2018 retail sales gains of between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent over last year.